Aspen turns to Steamboat for a lesson in school renovation
The logistics of overhauling Aspen High School without disrupting classes are daunting, but after visiting the newly renovated Steamboat Springs High School last week, school officials are confident a similar project can be undertaken here.
AHS Principal Kendall Evans and three members of the Asset Committee – the 12-person board that advises the school district on long-term facility-management issues – traveled to Steamboat last Thursday to view the refurbished high school facility there and meet with school officials to discuss the project.
The Aspen contingent came away from the visit feeling “very optimistic” about the proposed project in Aspen, Evans said.
Last week, following years of discussion about Aspen’s small and outdated high school, Superintendent Tom Farrell said the school district will ask voters next November to support a bond issue that would fund the proposed renovation and addition to the present high school facility, which was completed in 1966. The project is expected to cost about $20 million.
“Steamboat did a really nice job,” Evans said. “And they did a very similar job to what we’re proposing. We wanted to find out what problems they had, how they scheduled and moved students around while they were remodeling, and how it worked financially for them.
“It also gave us an idea about size and scope of the project,” he continued, “and how they used to the new building to fit their curriculum and student needs.”
The Aspen project, still in its planning infancy, has not been assigned a timetable, Evans said, though tentative plans are moving forward. In the near future, the school district will hire an architectural firm to conduct a feasibility study. “Once that’s done, we’ll have them do some conceptual drawings, and then we’ll have to price it out,” Evans said.
Evans said school officials hope to have that portion of the project completed by early spring.
“Then we can begin to educate the community about our needs and solicit their input regarding the conceptual plans,” he said.
“The bottom line is that we’re looking at a renovation and addition that’s going to be good for another 35 years,” Evans said. “We need a school and building that meets our needs in the 21st century. Steamboat doubled the size of their school and completely renovated it in 18 months’ time, and under budget – I think we could do the same thing here.
“The end result in Steamboat’s case was certainly worth whatever problems they had to put up with,” he added.
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